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By Dr. E. Kirsten Peters
One of the better phases of childhood, it has always seemed to me, is playing with codes and secret messages. You may remember a summer’s afternoon with “invisible ink” made from lemon juice. Perhaps your playmates devised code games for writing based on substituting numbers for letters, or you spent a day slowly beating out an important message in Morse code for the neighborhood kids to hear.
Despite what you think, you may not have left the world of intrigue and secrecy behind. If you buy anything via the Internet, you’re using sophisticated codes because all secure websites are based on them.
In childhood, the simple number-for-letter code worked the same basic way whether you were encoding or decoding a message. That’s a “one key” approach that’s still used – in much more sophisticated form – in some modern cryptography.
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